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Biodiversity Partnership Projects

Current Collaborative Biodiversity Projects Adelaide Hills Council are involved in.

It is estimated that vehicle strike is responsible for the deaths of 10 million animals in Australia every year as they traverse roads. Aside from the animal welfare issues and distress to wildlife rescuers and road users, it is also a road safety issue for drivers.

To address this, Council is working with rescue organisation 1300Koalaz to trial virtual wildlife fencing along two sections of road in the Adelaide Hills. Virtual fencing is an electronic protection system that alerts animals at night before crossing the road. The system consists of a series of posts set at 25-metre intervals along the road in a zigzag pattern on both sides of the road. When a vehicle approaches, the headlights activate a sensor at the top of each pole which triggers it to make a sound and flash blue and yellow lights creating a ‘virtual fence’ that deters animals from crossing. The technology has previously been trialed by the Tasmanian government, wildlife conservation groups and many councils across the country, often resulting in significant reductions in animal injury and death, leading to overall improved road safety for drivers.

Using 1300Koalaz call out data for vehicle strike locations, the two hotspots being trialled are Greenhill Road, Greenhill, from Mt Lofty Summit Road and adjacent the Yanagin Reserve, and Onkaparinga Road Woodside/Oakbank, between Riverview Rd and Mappinga Road, along the Amy Gillet bikeway. The success of the fence trial will be determined by comparing the road incident data collected by Council and 1300Koalaz, prior to and following installation. If the trial is deemed successful, Council will consider expanding the use of the technology to other hotspots within the region.

Bridgewater Recreation Reserve occurs within some of the region's best quality habitat. Cox Creek runs through it, a tributary to the Mt Bold Reservoir, providing water supply to greater Adelaide. There are a number of threatened native plant species that occur on site, including the Spotted Sun-orchid, Ploughshare Wattle, Candlebark, Pink & Manna Gums, Mount Lofty Phebalium, Short-awn Wallaby-grass and Native Broom. It also provides habitat suitable for many threatened species of native wildlife, such as the Shining Bronze-cuckoo, White-throated Treecreeper, Spotted Pardalote, Scarlet Robin, Brush Bronzewing, Common Brushtail Possum, Bassian Thrush and Yellow-footed Antechinus. Although not currently listed as threatened, the local Rakali, a protected sepcies, also lives in Cox Creek.

The Reserve has been maintained and improved over time through Council's annual works programs and Bush For Life volunteer activities. In 2021, Council launched the "Riparian Restoration of Cox Creek in Bridgewater Recreation Reserve" Project in partnership with the Bridgewater Friends of Cox Creek and Bush for Life, increasing efforts towards the goals of protecting and improving habitat and water quality of the watercourse, riparian zone and Blechnum bogs, through weed control and revegetation with local native plants.

Project partners also include Conservation Volunteers Australia and Aldgate Primary School. The willow removal and revegetation component undertaken during 2024 was supported by a Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board’s Grassroots Grant, funded by the landscape levy and Adelaide Hills Council. If you would like to become involved, please contact the Bridgewater Friends of Cox Creek or Bush for Life.

The community-led Bandicoot Superhighway Project aims to save the Southern Brown Bandicoot from extinction, and has a long term vision to foster a ‘highway’ of interconnected habitat throughout the Mount Lofty Ranges. Project partners include The Sturt Upper Reaches Landcare Group, The Nature Conservation Society of SA, The Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board, Green Adelaide, National Parks and Wildlife SA, The University of Adelaide and Friends of Parks Groups.

The project partners are working to:

  • Increase the Bandicoot’s available habitat through community and corporate planting events
  • Raise awareness, and involve the community in Bandicoot monitoring
  • Use ecological burning to maintain and improve habitat quality (in collaboration with government partners)
  • Undertake careful weed control to keep habitat healthy
  • Fence remnant vegetation from grazing animals
  • Trial establishing new sub-populations of Bandicoots to reduce their risk of extinction

Register your interest in joining the project here.

Lodge your bandicoot sighting here.

View the Bandicoot Habitat Management Guidelines here.

Led by the Friends of Black Hills and Morialta, the Muraltia Partnership is an initiative aimed at eradicating the invasive weed Muraltia hesteria and preserving the natural beauty and ecological integrity of the Adelaide Hills. By actively addressing the threat of Muraltia, we can protect our native vegetation, support endangered species, engage the community, and create a more resilient ecosystem for generations to come.

Muraltia had 85 identified infestations across key locations of the Central Adelaide Hills in 2021. The locations include in Morialta, Giles, and Horsnell Gully Conservation Parks, as well as on a number of private properties and Council road reserves in between. Its ability to thrive in steep heathy ecosystems, where other woody weeds have yet to emerge, the similarity of the Adelaide Hills habitat with respect to its native habitat in South Africa and the way the species persists even after years of concerted effort by many over the past 20 years underscores the urgency of addressing this threat to protect the unique biodiversity of our region. Had nothing been done in the past this weed would be far more widespread in the region than it currently is.

The Partnership brings together numerous organisations and volunteers, ensuring a collaborative and comprehensive approach to combating this invasive weed. The project is supported by Friends of Black Hill & Morialta (FOBHM), National Parks and Wildlife Service of South Australia (NPWS), Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board (HFLB), Adelaide Hills Council (AHC), Fourth Creek Catchment Group (FCCG), Morialta Biolink Landcare Group (MBL), Biology Society of South Australia (BSSA), Climbing Club of South Australia (CCSA), Trail Running SA (TRSA), private landowners, and Threatened Plant Action Group volunteers.

Learn more about the project here.

Learn more about Muraltia here.

Report Muraltia locations here.

The Mount Lofty Ranges of South Australia is nationally recognised for its ecological significance as one of Australia’s ‘biodiversity hotspots’. The region supports a remote island of native woodland that is separated by hundreds of kilometres from similar habitat in south-eastern Australia.

The Nature Conservation Society of South Australia's Mount Lofty Ranges Woodland Bird Monitoring Program is a long-term program, initiated by Professor Hugh Possingham, Drew Tyre and Dr Scott Field in 1999. It aims to collect & assess evidence for population declines in woodland birds through repeated surveys of 165 sites throughout the Mount Lofty Ranges – from Kaiserstuhl Sanctuary in the north to Deep Creek Conservation Park in the south.

Results from the past 23 years show that some large generalist bird species and Cuckoos are becoming more common, while many smaller insectivorous and frugivorous birds are becoming less common. More than half of all species (38/65) have declined, while 11 species have significantly increased.

The data can be used to indicate the success or failure of habitat restoration and rehabilitation, such as fencing, revegetation, prescribed burning, feral control or weed removal. Results from monitoring will also address:

  • The drivers of small insectivorous and frugivorous bird decline
  • Priority conservation management tools for protecting and restoring woodlands
  • The response to fire management including suppression, fuel reduction burns and ecological burns
  • The impacts resulting from climate change and land use changes.

Learn more about the Woodland Bird Monitoring Program here.

Bushland is precious to our state’s biodiversity and plays a pivotal role in ecosystem services, such as clean air, clean water and pollination. Healthy bushland is more resilient and better able to withstand threats such as weed invasion and climate change. With less than 15% of the native bush remaining in the Adelaide region, the bushland we know and love is struggling to survive. Bush regeneration is about helping the bush heal itself by encouraging natural regeneration and managing environmental weeds.

Trees For Life’s Bush For Life (BFL) program was created in 1994 to help people take practical steps to conserve, restore and protect these vital bushland remnants through bushland regeneration. It was the first of its kind and remains one of the largest volunteer programs in Australia, specifically designed to protect native vegetation. For over 20 years, BFL has been engaging, training and supporting volunteers to care for bushland, with bushcarers looking after more than 300 sites covering over 4,000 hectares. The BFL program coordinates bushcare volunteers in two ways - via adopting a site, where trained bushcarers regularly maintain an adopted site with support from a skilled BFL Field Officer, or via a Bush Action Team (BAT) event, where bushcare volunteer participate in a full or half day of bushcare activities.

Council has held a partnership with BFL since 1996, delivering a significant contribution to on-ground work to 28 BFL/AHC sites. Council deeply values this partnership for the level of volunteer support they offer and the skillset of the staff. Current Bush For Life Sites on Council Reserves are:

  1. Pound Reserve
  2. Yanagin Reserve
  3. Halliday Reserve
  4. Mt Barker Road
  5. Dalton Ave Reserve
  6. Fernwood Way Reserve
  7. Strathalbyn Road
  8. Nation Ridge Road
  9. Heathfield/Longwood
  10. Doris Coulls Reserve
  11. Heron Reserve
  12. Lobethal Bushland Park
  13. Smith Rd & Stone Quarry Reserve Kersbrook
  14. Kersbrook Conservation Reserve
  15. Bridgewater Recreation Reserve West
  16. Bridgewater Recreation Reserve East
  17. Mt. Bold Rd Cutting
  18. Bagshaw Rd
  19. Lenswood Park
  20. Yanagin Road
  21. Heathfield Conservation Reserve
  22. Head Conservation Reserv
  23. Gurr North Reserve
  24. Hampton Reserve
  25. Shanks Reserve
  26. Hender Reserve
  27. Chapman Reserve
  28. The Deanery

Register your interest in joining the Bush For Life program here.

Prescribed burns are primarily aimed at reducing fuel loads, but if undertaken in coordinated, landscape approach, burning in a mosaic pattern (small parcels) with long intervals between burns, it provides secondary benefits including weed management and other ecological benefits, such as bushland regeneration, improvement of wildlife habitat and overall bush restoration outcomes. It can also have a protective effect on bushland quality when recovering from bushfire, as is the case at Lobethal Bushland Park where the area that underwent a prescribed burn in 2018 is recovering much better than the area that was burnt in the 2019 Cudlee Creek Bushfire. The prescribed burn prevented the bushfire from burning large down large trees and canopy scorching while enabling a greater species diversity to recover in the understorey.

The CFS has been working with Bushfire Management Committees and the community to identify areas at the greatest risk of bushfire across the State through the Bushfire Management Area Planning (BMAP) process. Within these areas the State Government is now working with landholders, including Adelaide Hills Council, to help reduce the bushfire risk that may exist on their land. Numerous strategic sites on Council lands have been identified through the BMAP process, forming part of the DEW's Burning on Private Lands (BOPL) program, endorsed by Council.

Monitoring is a necessary component of the program, to observe and record species' overall response to fire size, intensity and frequency. This is undertaken by Council Biodiversity personnel as it is not a service that DEW provides post fire. A number of photopoints have been established at BOPL sites to provide data on native and exotic plant species and the woodland community's response to fire. The monitoring data is stored with Council, and provides opportunities to inform the DEW Program moving forward.

In 2018 Council initiated a post burn woodland bird monitoring program. This involves biannual surveys at each site to help inform staff and assist Council in its input into the decision making with regard to proposed burn frequencies. The overall intention of the program is to help reduce potential long-term impacts to bird species and their distributions within these Council reserves and across the wider region, where decline of woodland bird species is now well recognised. It has been theorised that frequent burning of native vegetation may be a contributing factor due to the changes to vegetation causes while dealing with other pressure factors, such as reduced habitat quality/range, fragmentation and climate change. The bird monitoring program provides trend data to indicate if further investigation or a more in-depth study is warranted to ensure that the program isn't contributing to woodland bird decline. It is also for this reason that the Biodiversity Team insists on a 'mosaic' (small patch) burning approach, allowing wildlife to seek refuge in other areas of the reserves while the burn site recovers.

You can learn more about DEW's BOPL Program here.

The ecologically important Council reserve Lobethal Bushland Park (the Park) offers significant recreational and educational value to many Adelaide Hills locals and tourists alike. It provides valuable natural habitat to native fauna and flora, including nationally threatened plant populations, in a region that has been largely cleared. It's protected by a Heritage Agreement, contains a Bush For Life Site, and has been carefully managed for many years through important partnerships between Council, State Government, Friends of Lobethal Bushland Park (FLBP) and Trees For Life.

In 2019, the Cudlee Creek Bushfire burnt the entire Park. Its recovery was of paramount importance to all key stakeholders and collaborative recovery efforts were coordinated by Council for the Lobethal Bushland Park Bushfire Recovery Project (the Project), enabling immediate and future management issues to be addressed. Starting with public safety and animal welfare, the Project subsequently focussed on reopening the Park, replacing critical infrastructure and post-fire weed management crucial to preserving the environmental values of the park. A Masterplan is currently underway to ensure future access and infrastructure considerations are coordinated effectively. Resources have been contributed from Council operational budgets, Federal and State Grant monies and numerous hours of volunteer and Council staff labour

The Project has set a high standard for bushfire recovery management in reserves in South Australia. Although operational budgets for the Park were insufficient to fulfil all the necessary recovery measures, Council secured additional resources through the Federal Government emergency bushfire funding, various Federal and State grant opportunities and Park insurance claims. Council also mobilised on-ground in-kind assistance from the Australian Army, Team Rubicon, Bush For Life, CVA and the dedicated Friends of the Park. Following the initial reinstatement of infrastructure and significant weed management efforts, Council is confident in securing long term sustainability of the park, through strong partnerships and collaborations. These include annual Park and playground maintenance schedules and conservation programs and initiatives such as the Native Vegetation Council's Heritage Agreement Program, Bush For Life Program, Friends of Lobethal Bushland Park works program, annual bushcare works program through the Council's LBP Vegetation Management Plan and Landscapes Hills and Fleurieu Work Plans, the Council's e Register, NCSSA's Woodland Bird Monitoring Program, and Bushland Assessment Method vegetation monitoring. Bushfire recovery within the Park is a collaborative effort. It is recognised amongst all key stakeholders that for our shared project goals and objectives to be realised, restoration and conservation efforts must continue well beyond the current project timeframes and become part of ongoing business.

In 2021, the Project was shortlisted as a finalist for the 20th Annual Local Government Professionals Australia, SA Leadership Excellence Awards.

Register your interest in joining the Friends of Lobethal Bushland Park here.

Register your interest in joining the Bush For Life program here.

Monarto Safari Park exists to connect people with nature and save species from extinction. It is routinely involved in a wide range of conservation programs including captive breeding, habitat restoration, biological surveys, creation of insurance populations, studies in reproductive biology, conservation education, corporate and community fundraising, wildlife disease management, translocation and community development to foster alternative livelihoods. As well as being an important conservation charity, the Park is a great tourist destination which benefits the wider Adelaide Hills region.

Adelaide Hills Council has been supporting the growing needs of the Monarto Safari Park for many years. In 2013, Council Biodiversity staff reached out to Monarto staff after hearing about the need for browse during a Monarto tour, offering some of the weeds being routinely removed from its reserves and roadsides to help feed Monarto's herbivores. The relationship blossomed from there. Currently, Monarto receives around 260 trailer-loads and 260 ute-loads from Council roadsides and reserves a year. More recently, Council was pleased to be able to provide Monarto with several truckloads of logs and timbers to help build new viewing areas and habitats, like the logs salvaged from the Heathfield Resource and Recovery Centre for the Meerkat enclosures, pictured below.

This relationship is incredibly valuable to both Monarto Safari Park and Adelaide Hills Council as conservation is a core ideal for both organisations. By providing Monarto with browse, Council supports their conservation goals for internationally endangered species, but Monarto is also supporting Council’s conservation goals in equal measure. By removing these weed species, habitat quality, fuel reduction and climate resilience are improved – it’s a great outcome for both parties. It also prevents some declared weed species from going to landfill, as they can’t be mulched due to risk of spread, so there are sustainability wins as well.

Generally the fresher the plant material is, the better it is for Monarto, so Council staff and contractors either notify the Monarto Browse Coordinator of infestations of appropriate weed species on Council land available for harvesting, or they contact the Browse Coordinator to arrange rapid pick up of material already removed.

Why is it important to remove weeds in general?

It is important for all landowners, including Council, to include weed control as part of their land management routine. One of the most significant threats to the biodiversity of the Adelaide Hills is weed invasion. Many plants were intentionally introduced from foreign countries as suitable fodder plants for domestic stock, for soil stabilisation purposes, or imported as ornamental garden plants. Even some Australian species outside of their natural distribution ranges have become highly invasive, such as the Cootamundra Wattle and Sweet Pittosporum. Nationally, invasive plants account for approximately 15% of all flora, and about one-quarter of these are either serious environmental weeds or have the potential to be serious weeds.

Some weeds are prolific invaders of pastures while others thrive in bushland communities, out-competing and smothering native plants, threatening the survival of native wildlife, and in some cases elevating fuel loads. Major infestations can physically alter the natural state of the bush, impacting on a number of ecological factors including the vegetation structure, natural diversity (species richness), species composition and abundance. There are many examples throughout the Adelaide Hills where bushland has become severely modified by weeds and habitat values are now compromised.

Click this link to see the list of appropriate browse species and contact details for the Monarto Browse Coordinator – if you have enough to fill a ute or trailer, they would like to hear from you!

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